On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Premier Heather Stefanson delivered the throne speech for Manitoba’s ruling PC government. Laying out the PCs’ intentions for the year to come (and future years, should they win next year’s election), their intent is clear: more of the same broken, cruel austerity that they’ve delivered for the past six years.
Read by Lt.-Gov. Anita Neville, Stefanson pledged to prop up the province’s failing healthcare system, slashed to the bones by the PCs, with private healthcare providers. Critics have been arguing for years that privatizing Manitoba’s healthcare is the PCs’ ultimate goal, that they will deliberately make our previously functional public healthcare system so ineffectual that they’d have “no choice” but to privatize.
This throne speech certainly adds fuel to that theory. It would also be a move right out of the PCs’ playbook. They did the same thing to MTS in 1996, a move that history has shown to be an utter disaster. But it was also a profitable move for PC politicians: then-premier Gary Filmon, who made the decision to privatize MTS, personally “collected more than $1.4 million in director fees and compensation over 10 years, with hundreds of thousands worth in shares,” according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
It’s also telling where the Stefanson government is willing to spend money: on police. Despite growing public calls to reduce police spending in light of frequent documentation of police violence and racism, Stefanson points to increased crime as a reason to increase spending on policing, despite the fact that the already bloated police budget has clearly done nothing to address the increase in crime.
It’s important for Manitobans to see through the PCs’ smoke and mirrors. This has always been their approach: gut services and protections for the most vulnerable, line their own pockets and make sure there’s enough boots on the ground to police the ever-growing number of people in poverty. It isn’t just irresponsible. It’s dangerous.
Published in Volume 77, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 17, 2022)